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Entertainment Pa. Senate Candidate Sean Parnell Loses Custody Battle amid Wife's Abuse Testimony, Suspends Campaign

06:51  23 november  2021
06:51  23 november  2021 Source:   people.com

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Leading Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell has suspended his campaign after losing a custody fight in Pennsylvania court amid his estranged wife's testimony that he was abusive.

Parnell, a Trump-endorsed Republican who was seen as a front-runner in his primary, said he was © Keith Srakocic/AP/Shutterstock Parnell, a Trump-endorsed Republican who was seen as a front-runner in his primary, said he was "devastated" with the court's decision

Senior Judge James Arner ruled Monday that Laurie Snell, Parnell's wife, will get primary physical custody and sole legal custody of the couple's three children, ages 8, 11 and 12.

The ruling comes after Snell gave emotional testimony in court accusing Parnell of choking her, slapping one of their kids and slamming a door so hard it hit a child's face and left a bruise — an account he adamantly denied in his own testimony.

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Snell also accused Parnell of holding her down and screaming at her in what she called "Sean-a-logues" as well as screaming fits of "rage" directed at their children.

Parnell — whose Senate campaign was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, making him an early front-runner in the primary ahead of what will be a closely watched 2022 election — denied the allegations in court and said the incidents Snell described under oath were "made up."

But Snell was a "more credible witness," the judge said in his ruling, according to multiple news reports.

"She provided factual details of each incident, including when they happened and what happened," the judge wrote, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "She testified in a convincing manner. Her testimony was not uncertain, confused, self-contradictory or evasive."

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Meanwhile, Parnell "simply denied that all of incidents ever happened, except he did describe his view of the incident when his younger son was hit by a closet door," Arner wrote, The Pittsburgh Tirbune-Review reports. "He was somewhat evasive. When weighing his position against Laurie Snell's statements of detailed facts about many incidents, Sean Parnell's position is less believable."

The judge also heard testimony from the children behind closed doors with attorneys present.

The judge said he did not believe Parnell had been abusive in the last three-and-a-half years and said that both parents were "equally capable of providing adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the children," the Inquirer reports.

Still, the judge did believe that Parnell committed acts of abuse in the past and ruled that Parnell's physical custody will be limited to three weekends a month.

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Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP Sean Parnell at a Butler County courthouse. © Provided by People Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP Sean Parnell at a Butler County courthouse.

After the ruling was announced, Parnell said he was "devastated" and withdrew from his race.

"There is nothing more important to me than my children, and while I plan to ask the court to reconsider, I can't continue with a Senate campaign," he said in a statement on Monday, CNN reports.

Parnell was hoping to win the seat of fellow Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who won't run for re-election next year.

"My focus right now is 100% on my children, and I want them to know I do not have any other priorities and will never stop fighting for them," his statement continued, according to The Washington Post.

RELATED: Pa. Senate Candidate Testifies That Wife 'Made Up' Her Stories of His Abuse and He 'Never' Choked Her

The judge cited Parnell's candidacy as a factor in his decision. "Availability is a major factor in this case," he wrote, referring to frequent travel required to campaign for office.

Parnell also "expects to win the election and to reside parts of the year in Washington, D.C.," the judge also wrote, according to the Post report.

Snell, on the other hand, has a flexible work schedule and intends to remain in the area where the children attend school, the judge noted.

Judge Arner further referred to Parnell's courtroom demeanor and attire in the ruling. "He was dressed very casually for his appearances in court, in blue jeans and untucked plaid shirts, which did not show respect for the seriousness of the occasion," he wrote, according to the Tribune-Review. "While testifying, [Parnell] looked mainly in the direction of his attorneys and toward members of the news media in the back of the courtroom, rather than at me."

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